August 18, 2022

Return to Pleasantville: Photographer Ken Ohrn Documents The Barge Bidding Adieu to English Bay

Our very own Ken Ohrn is a remarkable photographer and storyteller.

He has been following the saga of Vancouver’s largest hulk squatter,the barge which broke away from its mooring and settled in Vancouver on a stormy November day in 2021. There is fabulous film of the barge crossing English Bay on its own volition, and instead of heading to Stanley Park or under the Lions Gate Bridge eventually perched on Sunset Beach.

Despite numerous attempts to push, shove or somehow cajole the barge from its landing spot, the barge could not be budged.

As Andy Yan states in this story in the Vancouver Sun by John Mackie the barge was admired for all the wrong reasons.

“It’s beautiful because it reminds us of the industrial nature of the city, the actual guts of the city as opposed to this (city of) pristine gleaming glass towers reaching up to the sky and the mountains.It doesn’t belong. It’s an intruder into this Pleasantville.

And we loved it. The barge messed up the formulaic beaches and views.

Viewpoint Vancouver has written on how the barge became a pandemic celebrity being photographed and written about internationally, obtained for a short time its own “barge chilling” beach sign, and even was photographed with Christopher Gaze, the Shakespearean true Bard of the Beach with the Barge on the Beach.

Mr. Gaze actually wrote a poem for the barge. The barge itself has an active twitter account with thousands of followers, and even became a notable four star attraction on some online tourist sites.

There is also an unofficial official lego “build your own barge” kit put together by admiring fans which was available for sale in a limited edition.

Like many celebrities, the barge had its own security service, and became very costly for removal companies. After refusing to budge from its perch, the welding torches came out and the barge is now being disassembled, and its pieces floated away by other barges.

Ken Ohrn has been photographing  the barge in its advancing state of disassembly, and has provided appropriate quips for the process as well as his fabulous photos. Ken by the way has a background in Engineering and Physics and was also in the Air Force, providing a hat trick of professionally informed commentary. Here are a sample of Ken’s comments and images below:

“The famous #Barge in #Vancouver gets some more demolition action. After a puzzling absence, the two support barges are back, and one now has a ramp, a truck and a big backhoe on it.”

“#ByeByeBarge is moving quickly, with a large excavator tearing away at the sides. #Vancouver

“#ByeByeBarge moves into a new phase, as crews arrived this morning to set up a bridge of scaffolding from the seawall to the #barge. #vancouver”

“The famous #Vancouver #barge is slowly disappearing. #Byebyebarge The superstructure is mostly gone. Note the scaffolding in place to support work on the heavier hull and other stronger bits.”

“Update on the famous #Vancouver oddity – the #barge. It looks like a day for debris removal, with a new barge and a new crane getting into place. Plus continued growth of scaffolding in preparation for work on the hull.”



“#Byebyebarge, as the debris #barge gets full, soon to leave #Vancouver waters.”

The saga of the barge squat is now winding down and the beaches once again return to a semblance of Pleasantville. Here’s a YouTube video posted by the Weather Network of the Barge’s wild ride across English Bay and Sunset Beach amphibious landing from November 2021.


images: KenOhrn,CBC,Twitter

Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


Subscribe to Viewpoint Vancouver

Get breaking news and fresh views, direct to your inbox.

Join 7,293 other subscribers

Show your Support

Check our Patreon page for stylish coffee mugs, private city tours, and more – or, make a one-time or recurring donation. Thank you for helping shape this place we love.

Popular Articles

See All

All Articles